To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Observercast

It Starts With Education

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Educator Dr. Robin Fuxa is running for Oklahoma Senate in District 21. I had the opportunity to sit down with her to discuss issues she would like to see addressed by the legislature. We started with this question: “What issues facing public education would you like to see prioritized?”

Her first point was local control.

“Out-of-state politicians and fringe groups like Moms for Liberty shouldn’t drive what happens in Oklahoma schools. Parents already have the right to decline a book for their child, for example, and local board-approved selection policies outline how to address a concern, as well.”

As for the teaching of history, she had this to say:

“Children across Oklahoma are more than capable of looking at the full picture of moments from our past, some that we celebrate and some that are much more difficult to confront. We owe our children and teens a full picture of our past. Our kids can handle hard histories.”

The next three priorities involve funding.

“Keep public dollars in public schools. We need to reverse course on Oklahoma’s voucher scheme, with its financial benefits mainly going to families whose children were already in private school.”

Dr. Fuxa is concerned about the lack of oversight outside of public-school settings and what privatization does to rural communities and the economy.

“Vouchers are not fiscally responsible. They harm the public schools that serve as the heart of our communities, and there is no evidence that private schools serve children better.”

Improving per pupil funding is another issue. Oklahoma is near the bottom for per pupil funding, both in the region and in the country. The difference between the regional average and Oklahoma’s funding is $2,196 per student. That additional funding would address many needs, including the hiring of more qualified counselors and therapists, actual librarians in every school, and living wages for paraprofessionals and teachers’ assistants.

The need for counselors and therapists is real. Oklahoma has among the highest ACE [Adverse Childhood Experiences] Scores in the country.

“We know this affects learning and much more,” she says.  “We must address these needs for children to learn and be able to thrive in whatever path they take.”

Class sizes, teacher pay, and respect for teachers is also on her priority list.

“Currently, Oklahoma has a 32% teacher pay penalty, the fourth widest gap in the nation between what teachers earn compared to what others in our state with a bachelor’s degree earn.”

Oklahoma teachers not only need a raise, they need more respect.

“Respect for educators can’t be accomplished directly via statute, but policy makers can and must work to improve respect by offering teachers more than lip service. We need to hold Ryan Walters accountable for disinformation he spreads about teachers and public schools. We need more policy makers who respect teachers enough to listen to them when writing education-related legislation or considering a vote on an education issue. We foster respect by showing it in our actions.”

Education isn’t Dr. Fuxa’s only priority. I’ll be back soon with more of our conversation. And you can do your own research at robinforoklahoma.com.

Editor’s Note: Fuxa is the Democratic nominee in the district that includes parts of Payne and Creek counties. Three Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination in the June 18 primary: Kurt Murray of Perkins, James Winn of Mannford and Randy Grellner of Cushing. If a runoff is necessary, it is set for Aug. 27. Incumbent Sen. Tom Dugger, R-Stillwater, elected not to seek a third term.

Mark Krawczyk
Mark Krawczyk
March 9, 2023
Exceptional reporting about goings on in my home state as well as informative opinion pieces that makes people think about issues of the day...........get a SUBSCRIPTION FOLKS!!!!!!!
Brette Pruitt
Brette Pruitt
September 5, 2022
The Observer carries on the "give 'em hell" tradition of its founder, the late Frosty Troy. I read it from cover to cover. A progressive wouldn't be able to live in a red state without it.